PA arrests over 250 Hamas terrorists

'Post' learns US-trained battalion nabs terror suspects in Hebron; IDF "satisfied" with operation.

fatah 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
fatah 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Less than a month after deploying in Hebron, a US-trained battalion of Palestinian policemen has arrested over 250 terror suspects affiliated with Hamas, defense officials revealed to The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. In addition to the terror suspects, the battalion has also arrested over 140 Palestinians defined as "criminal suspects" and wanted for a wide range of criminal activity. The Palestinian policemen underwent US-directed military training in Jordan prior to deployment in Hebron in late October, which was approved by OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni following a request from the Palestinian Authority to allow the contingent into the city as part of an effort to crack down on Hamas terror infrastructure in the West Bank. "There is growing satisfaction with the current operation in Hebron," a senior defense official told the Post. "The battalion began its operations in the outlying Hebron villages and this week entered the city, where it began conducting arrest operations as well as seizing terror funds." US Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, the security coordinator to Israel and the PA, met this week with Shamni and the head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau Amos Gilad to discuss the ongoing Hebron operation as well as the possibility that it will be expanded to additional West Bank cities. An Israeli source said that Tulkarm and Kalkilya were likely to be next in line for a similar deployment and anti-Hamas operation. Another Israeli security official poured cold water on the results of the three-week operation and said that while the arrests were a positive development, it remained to be seen whether the terror suspects would be indicted and convicted. "Even if they stand trial we still have to ensure that they do not return to the streets and are not set free," the official said. "It isn't enough to arrest... We need to see that there is a complete judiciary process as well." Meanwhile Wednesday, the Civil Administration was making final preparations ahead of the arrival of over 250 foreign businessmen from across the Arab world to attend a three-day investors' conference in Nablus that starts Friday. Over 700 people will attend the conference looking for investment opportunities in the West Bank, which Israel and the PA hope will assist in improving the socioeconomic level in the PA territories. IDF sources said that businessmen from Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates were granted permission to attend the conference. They will cross into the West Bank via the Allenby Bridge from Jordan. The Civil Administration has set up a special lane at the crossing for the businessmen as well as a joint Israeli-Palestinian coordination office for the duration of the conference. The Palestinian Authority hopes to use the conference to interest foreign investors in establishing businesses in two new industrial zones that are in the planning stages in Tarkumiyeh and Jericho under German and Japanese funding.